UFC 224 Breakdowns & Predictions

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From here on out, representatives from The Athletes Hub will break down each UFC pay-per-view event, and who we ultimately believe will win. The industry has a few solid cards on the horizon, but let’s see what everyone thinks will occur:

Amanda Nunes (15-4) vs Raquel Pennington (9-6)

Devon’s Take: While this won’t appear as a “must-watch” PPV, Nunes and Pennington match up well against one another. Disregarding Pennington’s record of 9-6 within the UFC, she is actually on a four-fight win streak that includes one finish.

On the other side, Nunes has only allowed two of her previous six bouts to go to the judge’s table. While the Women’s Bantamweight division isn’t flashy in any sense, I can see this one ending in yet another Nunes finish.

Prediction: Amanda Nunes via Submission

Rami’s Take: I can’t tell why this fight is happening rather than Cyborg taking on Nunes, but Pennington is a solid fighter that has an opportunity to defeat the current champion in her hometown.

Nunes hasn’t lost a fight since becoming the champion, with wins over Miesha Tate, Ronda Rousey and Valentina Shevchenko. By the end, Nunes will prove why she is the best woman in the Bantamweight division.

Prediction: Amanda Nunes Via Knockout

Ronaldo Souza (25-5) vs Kevin Gastelum (15-3)

Devon’s Take: This has the making for yet another interesting setup, as Souza is clearly the better takedown artist. Averaging 3.35 takedowns per bout, compared to Gastelum’s 0.9, I would expect for Souza to attempt to take this match to the canvas.

Looking into Gastelum’s previous bouts, his striking rate is actually higher than Souza. In addition, Gastelum is slightly more accurate with his strikes, making this a fight in which he wants standing up. By the end, both of these men love to finish their fights, but the edge needs to be given to Souza.

Prediction:

Rami’s Take: With the exception of Yoel Romero and Robert Whittaker, Ronaldo Souza been seemingly unstoppable. In fact, he holds recent wins over Derek Brunson, Vitor Belfort, and Gegard Mousasi.

On the other side, Kelvin Gastelum is a man on a mission for gold. With both men containing power within their striking game, it will be a matter of who lands the right swing. After defeating Michael Bisping, this could end as a shock to many.

Prediction: Kevin Gastelum via Knockout 

Mackenzie Dern (6-0) vs Amanda Cooper (4-3)

Devon’s Take: I have been an avid supporter of Mackenzie Dern since her entrance into the UFC in March against Ashley Yoder. Remaining undefeated in both MMA and the UFC, Dern has room for improvement in comparison to her debut in UFC 222. While the fight finished in a split-decision, a streaky fighter such as Amanda Cooper could take advantage of her mishaps.

The inconsistency of Cooper is telling, as her striking game is less than elite. With a newcomer such as Dern in the UFC, Cooper will need to reel in this victory, which could very well be labeled as the biggest in her career thus far.

Prediction: Mackenzie Dern via Unanimous Decision

Rami’s Take: This will be another big fight for UFC newcomer Mackenzie Dern, who is very well on her way to the top of the UFC rankings. Her next opponent, Amanda Cooper, despite having a record of 4-3, will try anything to end her undefeated streak.

Cooper doesn’t have the most accurate striking game, but the same goes for Dern as well. This fight will be anyone’s guess, as the pace of the bout may play a factor.

Prediction: Mackenzie Dern via Submission

John Lineker (30-8) vs Brian Kelleher (19-8)

Devon’s Take: These two veterans have fought for a combined 65 MMA fights, and a lot of technicality should be shown in this particular fight. In his last ten bouts in the UFC, Lineker has held a record of 8-2, and has earned big fights along the way, including a unanimous decision loss against TJ Dillashaw.

With Kelleher, since entering the UFC, he holds a record of 3-1 with two recorded finishes. Even though he is unranked within his division, a victory here would make for the upset of the night. Although everyone loves a good fairy tale, the hot streak of Lineker is too difficult to stop at the moment.

Prediction: John Lineker via Unanimous Decision

Rami’s Take: This is a fight that can definitely set both men into the title picture in the Bantamweight division. On one hand, Lineker is coming off a win against Marlon Vera and a previous loss against current Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, and is looking earn yet another title shot in the near future.

On the other hand, Kelleher is coming off a unanimous decision win against former Bantamweight champion Renan Barão, and is also aiming for a title shot. This has the making for a knockout finish.

Prediction: John Lineker via Knockout

Vitor Belfort (26-13) vs Lyoto Machida (23-8)

Devon’s Take: On paper, it seems as though Belfort and Machida match up well with one another. Neither are very aggressive in the striking aspect, but both average less than 1.3 takedowns per bout as well.

The story behind Machida includes his three-fight losing streak being snapped in February, but it was through a split-decision call. As for Belfort, his last four fights include a no contest, two losses, and one recent victory through unanimous decision. Both fighters are attempting to get back into a title shot eventually, but this fight could truly show who is more capable of receiving another big fight.

Prediction: Vitor Belfort via Split Decision

Rami’s Take: It seems as though Machida is in for a long night if he can’t manage to end Vitor Belfort early on, as it has been announced that the veteran will be retiring after this bout.

Coming off a win against undefeated Eryk Anders by split decision to end his three-fight losing streak, Machida has a lot to prove in this fight. Meanwhile, Belfort is also on a similar losing streak, and will look to exit the industry on a high note.

Prediction: Vitor Belfort via Unanimous Decision 

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